The Secret World – launch & early access

Per the forums:

The Secret World will launch on July 3rd. Everyone who has pre-ordered the game will however get access four days earlier on June 29th. Anyone with a pre-order will be able to get into the game at 16:00 GMT (18:00 CEST, noon EDT, 9am PDT). Players who placed their pre-orders early and anyone with the Grand Master Pack will get access on June 29th even earlier.

Every account eligible for Early Access will receive an e-mail at the time when the account is opened up for access so make sure you check your e-mails frequently on June 29th.

Available dimensions (servers) at launch, subject to change though it’s probably getting late for that:

Dimensions are global and you can play anywhere you want without any regional restrictions. We’ve marked some dimensions as French- and German-speaking, and though you can still play the English language version of the game on those dimensions, people will probably be chatting and communicating in French or German.

Here is the list of the first five English dimensions, along with the first two French-and-German dimensions:

* Cerberus
* Daemon
* Arcadia (RP dimension)
* Grim
* Huldra
* Drac (French dimension)
* Kobold (German dimension)

For what it’s worth, I will likely be on Grim at least to begin with, since my long-time tribe-guild-gestalt-thingy is planning to start there. The rationale is to find a popular server (anyone who played TOR knows what empty servers look like a few months after launch) but not THE most popular server.

Counting only the non-RP, English language servers, my guesstimate as far as that goes is that Daemon will instantly be the most popular, followed by Grim/Cerberus (can’t quite decide which weighs more), then Huldra because nobody knows what one is and won’t be able to remember the name. The only way a server could be more popular than Daemon would be if it were called Boobies.

This is assuming I can find time to play on early access! I’ve got a bunch of things to do tomorrow and for some reason all these people keep wanting me to do work for them (the cheek!)… but I’m hopeful I’ll be able to hop in. I’m also planning to take screenshots and maybe even cobble together a review at some point, but I’m wary of promising stuff I may not have the energy to deliver.

In any case, to those of you who have preordered or will be playing at some point, I hope to see you in-game! Depending on the number of char slots we get across the servers, I may be able to make alts just to hop in and say “Ohai!” to people – because you all know how much I hate making alts. Or I could just use the handy-dandy cross-server chat that Winged Nazgul just mentioned in the comments… D’oh!

Sucker for a happy ending

I talk a lot about being an introvert, a hermit, a soloer for most of the time I spend in games — and while lately I’ve actually been more of a duoer, the basic principle still holds: when I’m mucking about in game, I prefer very little company. It has to be just the right company or I become crabby, overwhelmed, prone to profanity and just generally turn into a bitchy pain in the ass.

What only other introverts seem to understand, however, is that this doesn’t make me unsociable or anti-social — quite the contrary. I’m extremely sociable, it’s just that my terms for it aren’t the same as those of your average extrovert (who, making up statistics as I go along, seem to make up the bulk of the MMO population). I have a huge personal space requirement, both in real life and in virtual life. Some people get that, and others just stand on my character, or sit in front of me staring at my (virtual! FFS!) boobs and drive me to frothing annoyance.

There’s more than one way to be sociable, and one of the ways I’m sociable is by socialising in chat. And specifically guild chat. WoW wouldn’t have held me 2 weeks when I came back if I hadn’t been able to hook back up with my forever tribe, the Knights Who Say Ni — and with a subset of friends I hadn’t “seen” (you know what I mean) in years and had missed a great deal more than I’m usually willing to admit. Hell, I’ve known some of these people for over a decade now, whether I’ve met them in person or not — and one day I swear I’ll make it to an RL guild meet; I’m tired of missing out on those Las Vegas high jinx!

So when I caught Larísa’s post just now over at the Pink Pigtail Inn, I was only half surprised to find myself sniffling a bit as I reached the end of the post. It’s well worth a read, as the Pink One’s stuff always is.

We’re nothing without our friends, and I’m a little tired of explaining that how I spend my time killing shit has zero bearing on my social abilities.

It’s not what you’re playing, it’s who you’re playing it with.

PS – If you’re the one who stole my ability and desire to do walls of text, gimme it back! These short posts are just… weird.

Off with their heads! Player politics.

Spinks shared this, so it actually came up on my reader, and I have to cry shenanigans. Oh wait not that one – BS. That’s the one I want.

It’s another “gamer-types” post and here’s the original. It’s another incredibly biased gamer-types post where one side is beauty truth and light and the other is one step down from maggots. I wonder if you can work out which is which from the quote below?

Continue reading

MMO Hell isn’t always other people

Just a small thing today, something I noticed over the last few days.

I don’t mind solo-playing in games at all — quite the contrary, I define myself as a solo player when it comes to the line that’s inevitably drawn between one playstyle and the other (as I’ve written about copiously before; here’s just one example because I’m lazy). Solo play suits my lifestyle — or, more to the point, group-play isn’t usually an option for me for various reasons.

Guild Wars is extremely solo-friendly, at least at  the low levels I’ve been playing at; with heroes and henchmen (NPCs) available, it seems it probably stays that way for a good part of the available content. This is a good thing.

But last week I finally convinced the spousal unit to give the game a try and we played a few introductory sessions together. We didn’t get much done, admittedly, because he’s still in the learning to walk and chew gum phase, but we bimbled around in pre-Searing Ascalon, slew some stuff, looted some other stuff, and made a few quest NPCs happy.

And the plain fact is: games are more fun when you play with someone else. I’ve found myself less inclined to log on and mush about with my solo characters, hoping instead that we’d be able to find the time to do some stuff together. Mort is the perfect playing partner for me, not least because he’s in the same room and if one of us has to run AFK for whatever reason (dinner, laundry, dog with possible plague/tularemia*) it’s easy to say “Ack! Wait!” and not have to worry about your group-mates standing around being bored out of their heads while they wait for you.

Aside from that though we also have very similar playing styles — which was in fact how we made friends in the first place a decade ago.  We don’t slam through content at breakneck pace, though we also don’t really snail our way through stuff. We’re careful what we pull. We consult each other before we go this way or that way. We don’t argue about who gets what loot. It’s a relaxing group atmosphere.

(I’m not going to touch grouping behaviour other than pacing — loot behaviour, telling other people how they should be playing their class, all that stuff. Because if the pace ain’t right, most of the other stuff will never get a chance to come out anyway.)

I’ve got some very good friends with whom I avoid grouping if possible (when we’re playing the same game) because our grouping styles just aren’t compatible. Some can’t ever get their arses in gear — which is easier to deal with than the opposite type but can still be annoying. Some can’t stand that sometimes I can’t get my arse in gear, or that sometimes I can forget from one minute to the next that we were about to do something together. (Forgetful? Moi?)  Others group like they solo, forging ahead regardless of group pace and ending up half a zone in front of everyone else because that’s how fast they play and there’s no reason they should slow down for anyone else.

Both of those bug me. To my mind if you’re going to group you have to compromise a little, and if that means slowing down somewhat or speeding up somewhat to match the average group pace, then that’s what you do. But if the pace just doesn’t suit you no matter how much you try to adapt — don’t group with those people.

Of course, I have the luxury of being picky. I don’t play games that require me to group, and so I only group when I want to. I don’t feel compelled to group because I don’t feel incomplete when I play solo. Some of the least flexible group players I’ve encountered are the ones who’ve had to group with goobers (of whatever kind) too many times, and I can understand their frustration. My solution is to simply avoid grouping, but that’s not always an option if you want to experience certain kinds of content.

Group woes aside, though, when you do find a good person or five to group with there’s just no denying than gaming is more fun. We’re social creatures and we like to laugh and achieve stuff (to whatever extent), and grouping in an MMO fulfils those drives on many different levels.

I almost wish games would include playstyle-matching in their LFG interfaces. It’s not just a case of whether you’re playing a fighter or a healer — it’s also a case of whether you play slowly and carefully or whether you play like the Energizer bunny on steroids. I’d tick the “likes to stop and smell the roses” box and definitely leave the “it’s all about getting to the boss as fast as possible!” box empty.

Anyway — there’s no real point to this post other than to appreciate the people I play with. If you have a regular gaming buddy or group and your playstyles are compatible, take a moment to be grateful for that. The older and busier we get, the harder that seems to achieve.

Unrepentant altoholic LF laid-back, relatively slow, plays-odd-hours G in Guild Wars. Likes long walks on the beach and slaying monsters with plenty of coffee breaks. Slackers only please!


*Which she apparently does not have, according to the initial test, yay!

I’m in ur #ff stealin’ ur slang

It’s a Twitter thing, see — #ff = FollowFriday, as in, who am I following today, as in mini popularity contest because noooo, we didn’t get enough of this shit at school and now we get to re-enact high school all over again in the context of social media, only this time around it’s much easier to post nekkid pictures of drunk chicks and toilet-headed nerds.


Actually I had a surprisingly easy time in high school, as far as that stuff goes. I’ve always been a semi-loner and I’ve never been particularly impressed on command. I was equally distant and equally friendly with whatever cliques and groups there were, and got on pretty well with all of them. Not consciously mind you, and on a couple of occasions I clearly broke some vital clique protocol, but for the most part high school was a refuge from other stuff and not the modern hell it’s usually portrayed as, especially here in the States.

But I digress. #followfriday is also a good way to shout out to people who are especially interesting, funny, engaging, outrageous — whatever. So, because I’m utterly uninspired this morning and might just possibly have has a little too much beer with my (skill-less) pool last night, here’s my own version. Minor hangover aside, I also strongly believe in giving props for the stuff you enjoy. These are blogs or sites I enjoy — maybe you will too!

I’m very egalitarian. If you’re not on one of these and would like to be, just drop me a box of chocolates a comment or $20 mail and, if you’re worthy of being in my uber-selective blogger clique*, I’ll add you to my #FridayFoofery. Note that #ff traditionally uses 7 names. I think. I also don’t care, but it’s what I’m going to use.

Friday Foofery July 23, 2010

HarbingerZero — he cannot be contained and he’s back in EVE with moar skillz and bettur ships than me. Which may not be saying all that much.

Caladwen’s Gaming Blog — EQ2 to the core and currently fighting evil account theifz. There is a special circle of hell for people who do that, where they make damned sinners watch reality TV all day every day.

A Ding World — because of all the Swedish bloggers I know, Sente is definitely the best! Oh wait! Larisa… okay, the best MALE blogger. Sente, you’d better not be a girl.

The Pink Pigtail Inn — needs no introduction. I don’t play WoW but one doesn’t need to play a given game to read the best posts about it. Cuz if that were the case I’d have no readers, and I know I have at least four now! (Hi Joe, hi Billy Bob, hi Fuchsia, hi Dickie!)

Cow Nose the 50lb Cat — because how can you not link a name like that? Maybe the truly biblical FLOOD of people coming by from here will prompt said lazy-ass feline to post some more.

The Internet Crashed — yeah, I linked to them not long ago. Cybersue me!

One Of These Alts — recently discovered thanks to the Great ActiBlizzard Shitstorm of ’10, currently raising hell in SWG (briefly) and EQ2

(#8 is not really here. You have not seen it. This is not the Gamasutra article on “Is the game industry a happy place” you’re looking for.)

* We get our own heart-of-the-volcano lair and really good dental, by the way. The cafeteria food’s lousy though.

Innocence abroad

Harbinger Zero asked me to post my humiliation for all to see, so here it is.

This is how I got scammed in Jita, in EVE Online, a couple of days ago.


The Setting

Non-EVErs should know that Jita is the Ironforge of the EVE universe — it’s permanently packed (1300+ people when I was there) and it’s permanently full of sales spam, smack talk, and of course scammers.

It’s actually a pretty short story, and one I should have known better than to fall for, both as a reasonably smart individual and as a 10+ year (argh!) MMO player.


The Scam

Some player, let’s call them LadyMolo to avoid giving them publicity but still remain relatively true to the name, was claiming to be leaving the game for RL reasons and therefore wanted to give her money away.  If you come from a more recent MMO generation you might instantly think “Ohh right, one of those scams. What a crock!” But back in the day of walking uphill barefoot both ways in the snow to get our levels, people who left games often did give away their virtual-worldly goods. I’ve done it myself a time or two.

Anyway, LadyMolo kept spamming chat with “I”m leaving blah blah blah, send me X amount and I’ll send you back three times as much!” And here’s the kicker to rope in suckers like me: “Send a small amount first to test me!”

I was only in Jita to pick up some goods I could sell back home in Verge Vendor for twice the price, and I wanted to get in, get my shit, and get out again as fast as possible. I don’t like crowds much in RL and I don’t like crowds in virtual space either. (People either get that or they don’t. It bugs the hell out of me when someone stands in my face in an MMO, and I’ve had long debates with friends and acquaintances who just don’t get the concept of personal space when it’s virtual space. Maybe it’s a female thing. /end digression) Text that scrolls so fast you can barely read it — though 99.99% of it isn’t worth reading anyway — is a pain in the backside. And, generally, swimming in a tiny pool full of carnivorous fish ready to blast you just because they don’t like the cut of your jib — so not my thing.

Even so, in the short time it took me from entering the system to docking at the station with the goods I wanted, I saw enough of the scam to be intrigued. I checked my personal wallet and thought, Hrm, I could make a few million extra profit here!

Dollar signs went cha-ching in my eyes. I sent the person 2 million ISK (which is barely enough to get a cup of coffee at EVE-Starbucks these days).

A few seconds later, I get 6 million back. And that of course is how the suckers are hooked and landed.

Fortunately, gullible though I may be, I’m not entirely idiotic. I just sent back the 6 mill I’d got. And waited. And waited. And waited — along with an increasingly vocal group of other marks. A few minutes later LadyMolo logged off, never to be seen again.



The Mark

Being scammed isn’t humiliating — but standing up for the scammer certainly is. And I did. I bought not only the scam but the story, and defended the scammer to others. Aieee.

But while my MMO persona is humiliated and vowing never to fall for anything ever again, my RL persona doesn’t really mind. For one thing, I didn’t “invest” (positive spin, see?) anything I couldn’t afford to lose. Sure, Ysharros’ personal wallet is pretty flat now but you can pretty much spit and make a couple of mill in EVE even without combat, so it’s not such a big deal.

If anything — like with the almost-got-killed incident — I’m amused at my own perpetual gullibility and at the cleverness of the scam. It was just believable enough for some of us to get conned. It was the usual “put in a little, get out a lot, do it  again sucker!” con that anyone who’s been following financial news in the last couple of decades will be aware of — myself included. But reading about a scam and thinking how you’d never get taken in, and being the mark of a scam are two entirely different things.

At the end of the day, as I’ve said before, I don’t mind being gullible. Being cynical is only a veneer for me, and if I were a cynical old cow to the core I’d probably be unhappier. Miserable and rich isn’t something I particularly aspire to, in games or in life.


Lessons learned

1. I still hate Jita. I’d only been there once in my previous EVE stints, and I don’t intend to go back if I can possibly help it. For the record, I loathed Ironforge too.

2. Never invest what you can’t afford to lose. EVE and other PvP games are pretty much all about those rules if you don’t want to get horribly burned and be scarred forever more. I didn’t hand over much, I didn’t get taken for more than I initially handed over, so it wasn’t too painful or costly a lesson. (A few marks sent over 100-200 million ISK — to me that’s a ginormous fortune, though I know people regularly deal with billions in EVE these days, probably including the not-nearly-so-gullible Stabs.)

3. Quit while you’re ahead. This is why I don’t gamble.


Sountrack: It’s yer money I’m after baby — The Wonder Stuff. (NME will even let you see a video… provided you’re not in the US.)

* Yes, I know I’m misquoting my title. See what I did thar?

It’s only a game

There’s an old gaming chestnut I’d like to smash today. I’ll try to be brief.

Whenever I’ve been told “Dude, it’s only a game!” it’s always been by someone who just finished bullying me or one of my friends.

Yes, it’s a game. No, it’s not only a game.

By that argument it’s perfectly all right for some asshat to stomp all over my kid’s lovingly-built sand castle. It’s only a sand castle, right?

By that argument, it’s perfectly all right for some asshat to slash up the painting I’ve been working on. It’s only a hobby, right?

We are emotionally invested in these games. We’re supposed to be. If you’re not, and it’s “only a game” then why are you in there playing power games and what exactly are YOU trying to prove? The implied lack of emotional investment and involvement is something I find pretty disturbing, actually.

Why play games if you don’t care about what you’re doing there? Is there a point to playing a game where you have so little involvement and investment that you don’t actually care what happens there? Is that even a game?

It’s often a matter of nuance, too. There’s getting killed/bested in a game and being perfectly happy with the outcome (except you’ll do better next time), and then there’s getting killed/bested in a game by someone who then proceeds to tell you that you shouldn’t care, because it’s only a game. I never did get that attitude and I never will — to me it sounds like nothing so much as a cop-out. “I know I’m being an asshole and I know MY fun requires YOU to be upset, because that’s how I am, so I’m going to make sure it’s somehow all your fault because you can’t take a joke.”

Funnily enough, those people don’t respond well when you return the favour and tell them it’s only a game.

I’m not nearly close enough to Nirvana to have abandoned all attachment to material things, games included. My apologies if I care enough about my gaming to actually give a shit when I or my friends get bullied.

Note — this mini-rant isn’t prompted by anything in particular. I haven’t been bullied lately. But I decided years ago that I wasn’t going to stand for bullying and I was going to call bullies out on their behaviour. Sometimes you have to take a stand.